Research-oriented programs that skew older / Research Experience

Sep 26, 2010
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Hello,

I'm a second career applicant interested in research-oriented PhD programs in Clinical Psychology. GRE 1400, GPA 3.5 Ivy League (not in psychology) and some clinical experience and good letters of recommendation. I am currently getting an EdM in educational psychology part-time, online. I have no research experience in Psychology and my Masters' supervised research course is not until my last semester (Spring 2012), which is too late for me to show in my application for entrance for Fall 2012. For 2011, I have an unpredictable work schedule (which is why I'm doing my EdM online) that requires me to be out of town quite often.

So here are my questions:

1.- How can I bridge my lack of research experience given my work schedule (the effort for me to put in is not the issue, but I cannot commit to specific times or days of the week to be in a lab setting). Is supervised research not in a lab environment an acceptable substitute? How about "unsupervised"?:confused:


2.- In the forum threads I've read about programs that skew favorably towards older students. How can I find out what these programs are? I'm only interested in funded programs.


Thank you
 

Existenz

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why dont you finish up your masters and then when you can devote the appropriate amount of time into a PhD do it?
 
OP
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Sep 26, 2010
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why dont you finish up your masters and then when you can devote the appropriate amount of time into a PhD do it?
Thanks for the feedback. Finding the time is not the issue, committing to a consistent schedule to physically be at a lab is. So my question is, when schools look at research experience in a clinical PhD candidate, is a masters' research capstone project not done in a lab setting viewed as a reasonable research experience, or is being an RA at a Lab the true requirement?

Thank you for helping me clarify my question.
 

Ollie123

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Well, part of that will depend what "capstone" project means. If it is just a lit review and writing a paper...not even close, its basically just more coursework. If it is more like an honor's project and you will be designing a study, collecting data, analyzing it and writing it up, then absolutely (though if that is your only experience it may be a bit of a stretch for the better funded programs, but I think you'd at least have a shot).

Not all labs will have explicit "You must here 8-12 MWF" type requirements, though the majority probably will. I was in a lab as an undergrad that I could basically set up around my schedule as long as I was getting the work done...there were weeks I couldn't fit in anything, and weeks I had to put in 20+ hours, but it all worked out in the end and the faculty member was quite happy with the results.
 

AcronymAllergy

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Well, part of that will depend what "capstone" project means. If it is just a lit review and writing a paper...not even close, its basically just more coursework. If it is more like an honor's project and you will be designing a study, collecting data, analyzing it and writing it up, then absolutely (though if that is your only experience it may be a bit of a stretch for the better funded programs, but I think you'd at least have a shot).

Not all labs will have explicit "You must here 8-12 MWF" type requirements, though the majority probably will. I was in a lab as an undergrad that I could basically set up around my schedule as long as I was getting the work done...there were weeks I couldn't fit in anything, and weeks I had to put in 20+ hours, but it all worked out in the end and the faculty member was quite happy with the results.
I agree with pretty much everything above. Undergraduate-type RA positions are often flexible in terms of scheduling your required hours, but you may have trouble finding those kinds of openings given your current situation. I know that our RAs, for example, can schedule with us on a weekly basis if necessary, although many will try to stick to a consistent routine for the entire semester/year.

As for the capstone project, as Ollie mentioned, it really depends on the nature of the project. If it's essentially a lit review, then while it wouldn't hurt, it likely wouldn't be a full stand-in for lab experience. However, if it involves collecting, analyzing, and report on data (even if said data is something as "simple" as an internet survey), then it's definitely solid experience.
 
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Sep 26, 2010
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I agree with pretty much everything above. Undergraduate-type RA positions are often flexible in terms of scheduling your required hours, but you may have trouble finding those kinds of openings given your current situation. I know that our RAs, for example, can schedule with us on a weekly basis if necessary, although many will try to stick to a consistent routine for the entire semester/year.

As for the capstone project, as Ollie mentioned, it really depends on the nature of the project. If it's essentially a lit review, then while it wouldn't hurt, it likely wouldn't be a full stand-in for lab experience. However, if it involves collecting, analyzing, and report on data (even if said data is something as "simple" as an internet survey), then it's definitely solid experience.
Thank you for the feedback! The capstone project is the latter, but as I said, it is not until Spring 2012. Since the research class doesn't take place until after the applications are due for entrance in 2012, am I right in thinking that I need to get experience sooner, or is it a timely topic during (hopefully) interviews? Again, thank you for the feedback.
 

AcronymAllergy

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Thank you for the feedback! The capstone project is the latter, but as I said, it is not until Spring 2012. Since the research class doesn't take place until after the applications are due for entrance in 2012, am I right in thinking that I need to get experience sooner, or is it a timely topic during (hopefully) interviews? Again, thank you for the feedback.
If possible, I'd definitely recommend you try to get some experience sooner, as it might help you land the interviews. You can then mention the capstone project during said interviews to help "sell yourself."
 
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Sep 26, 2010
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If possible, I'd definitely recommend you try to get some experience sooner, as it might help you land the interviews. You can then mention the capstone project during said interviews to help "sell yourself."
Got it! I'll talk to my Advisor and see if I can start to help starting Jan. Even if Im not physically in a lab, I may be able to help with the research (SPSS, or other tasks) Thanks again!
 
Dec 15, 2009
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I think it depends on which schools you mean when you say "research oriented programs". I don't think you'll be competitive for clinical science type programs (the ones with the heaviest emphasis on research) unless you work in a lot of experience into your last year. Most people going into those programs have several years of research experience, including their own projects and posters/publications. This is also starting to be the trend in scientist-practitioner programs that skew toward the research emphasis. I also think the online degree may not do you any favors at most places either.
 
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Sep 26, 2010
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I think it depends on which schools you mean when you say "research oriented programs". I don't think you'll be competitive for clinical science type programs (the ones with the heaviest emphasis on research) unless you work in a lot of experience into your last year. Most people going into those programs have several years of research experience, including their own projects and posters/publications. This is also starting to be the trend in scientist-practitioner programs that skew toward the research emphasis. I also think the online degree may not do you any favors at most places either.
Thanks again for the feedback. I am concentrating on the "scientist-practitioner programs that skew toward the research emphasis" so I have my work cut out for me anyway.

How about the second part of my question, which is getting an insight into funded clinical PhD programs that skew or are known to admit some older students? Thanks again!
 

Therapist4Chnge

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"Skew older" is quite variable because cohorts will vary by the applicants that apply and how each set of applicants match up with the available faculty. Unlike undergrad, you'll find that "older" applicants are more common and generally it is rarely an issue. If anything, you may find some advantages with being older and having more life experience than the typical applicant.

Your lack of research experience is going to be your biggest hurdle. If you are looking towards research heavy programs, you stand little chance of even securing an interview without significant research experience. Read through the WAMC thread for more good feedback about gaining research experience. All threads about "viability" belong in there, though I left this thread because I think it can be helpful for non-trad students looking to apply to clinical programs.
 

Ollie123

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I don't intend this to be "rude" since this isn't exactly considered a polite question in most circles, but given the circumstances, can I ask how much older are we talking?

T4C makes a great point. I know very psychology few programs where someone would bat an eyelash at someone in their 30's applying. Unlike medicine, it is actually far more unusual to see people accepted straight out of undergrad than it is to see applicants that are slightly older than average. Frankly, competition is such that even extremely competitive students now often have to work 1-2 years in the field to build up their CV before getting in - and many have to (or choose to) work more than that. We have a pretty full scale here (some folks accepted right out of undergrad, and I think 1-2 people in their late 30's, early 40's). Most falling somewhere in the middle
 
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Sep 26, 2010
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I don't intend this to be "rude" since this isn't exactly considered a polite question in most circles, but given the circumstances, can I ask how much older are we talking?

T4C makes a great point. I know very psychology few programs where someone would bat an eyelash at someone in their 30's applying. Unlike medicine, it is actually far more unusual to see people accepted straight out of undergrad than it is to see applicants that are slightly older than average. Frankly, competition is such that even extremely competitive students now often have to work 1-2 years in the field to build up their CV before getting in - and many have to (or choose to) work more than that. We have a pretty full scale here (some folks accepted right out of undergrad, and I think 1-2 people in their late 30's, early 40's). Most falling somewhere in the middle
Thanks everyone for the great input! I don't considerate asking about age rude, I'm in the latter age category. I appreciate the feedback and the message is pretty clear: I need to get the research experience, lots, quality and soon!. Had a good chat with my master's program coordinator and she said she will try to match me up as a volunteer RA to start next semester. She will find me a couple of interviews, so I am excited about this. I will also contact a couple of people I know and see if there's opportunities to collaborate on their research. Thanks everyone for the great and open feedback, this is an incredibly useful resource!